There’s an invisible problem that poses a looming challenge to the North Country economy. Somewhere between 10,000 and 16,000 small business across the region are owned by Baby Boomers, and they are reaching retirement age. Most of them do not have solid plans in place for their businesses to change hands, change ownership or change ownership structures. Without plans in place, many will simply close their doors, leaving our communities short of jobs, main street businesses and the engines that help drive our local economies.

On Monday, May 7, 2018, ANCA was honored to host Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in our office as she announced bipartisan legislation that will go a long way to addressing this issue. The proposed legislation, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, will improve access to capital and supply technical assistance to businesses seeking to transition to employee-ownership or co-operative models.

“Too many hardworking New Yorkers are still struggling to get jobs that pay them enough to take care of their families and save for retirement. I am proud to announce this bipartisan bill to help companies reward work without sacrificing profit,” said Senator Gillibrand in a press release. “Employee-owned businesses have a strong track record of better pay and retirement benefits for workers and a commitment to creating local jobs.

Photo: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand addresses members of the press and local and regional organizations at the ANCA office on May 7th.
She announced new legislation that supports employee-owned businesses.

ANCA is working on a regional initiative that will complement this legislation. The Center for Businesses in Transition will assist interested retiring business owners in successfully protecting and investing in  their businesses for future generations.

At Monday’s event, ANCA’s executive director Kate Fish described how rural North Country businesses are especially vulnerable to closure. “It’s a hidden problem until you see the ‘going out of business’ sign or the ‘closed’ sign and you find out that it was somebody who  wanted to retire and couldn’t find anybody to take over their business,” she said. “We need to keep those businesses around and viable.”

The format for ANCA’s new Center will be based loosely on its existing Energy Circuit Rider program, which uses “boots on the ground” field agents to connect with constituents and communities. Collaboration with other organizations is also key to the Center’s work.

In cooperation with legislators like Senator Gillibrand, regional partners and local business owners, we intend to leverage the tools and resources to invest in our region’s businesses and hold on to the jobs and families they support.

Photo: Senator Gillibrand speaks with local and regional leaders during her visit to the ANCA office. 

We plan to get the Center up and running later this year. For more information about the Center for Businesses in Transition, read ANCA’s press release about the program.

For regional coverage on the Senator’s May 7th visit, see the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the Sun Community News and WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

To read more about challenges facing North Country businesses and opportunities provided by cooperative and employee-owned business models, read our March 2018 blog, Rural Business Transitions and the New Economy.

For more information about the Center for Businesses in Transition, contact Jacob Vennie-Vollrath or Danielle Delaini at or (518) 891-6200.